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School

Top 5 High School Literature Books to Read

High school students in America face similar English curricula, where they read the same books written by the same authors. At Acclaim, we selected five of the greatest books included in high school classrooms. Though all of these books are well known and loved, we decided not to include any of the canonical novels for originality’s sake. All of these books are renowned for their literary merits and are excellent for furthering your analytical abilities.

  1. Persuasion, Jane Austen. 

Similar to Austen’s acclaimed Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion is a classic Austenian romance with the archetypal characters. It is an excellent novel that highlights themes and symbols regarding social hierarchies and decisions. 

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Harper Lee’s famous To Kill A Mockingbird is a sweet novel that also seamlessly portrays darker themes such as racism. The narrative form of the writing is critically acclaimed and certainly an aspect for students to analyze. Every character has their idiosyncrasies that one can critically think about.

  1. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert

As Flaubert’s infamous novel, Madame Bovary is a masterfully written French romance. Madame Bovary, the titular character, is a woman who lives in the moment and romanticizes all facets of life. Her constant romanticization and superficiality lead her to empty disappointment and tragedy. Her eyes, along with Flaubert’s specific usage of color, are interesting aspects to observe.

  1. Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare

What’s a high school English class without Shakespeare? Instead of the stereotypical recommendations of Macbeth and Hamlet, we at Acclaim ranked Taming of the Shrew quite highly. This is a play about two wealthy individuals romancing each other with themes about hierarchies and gender roles. There are countless academic debates and theories regarding the feminism (or lack thereof) within the play, so read it and form an opinion yourself!

  1. The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

Wilde’s wildly controversial novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray artfully defines hedonism through a myriad of symbols. This novel is paradigmatic for students learning about identifying symbolism. It’s a hauntingly enticing book that will have you continuously turning pages!

All of these books are phenomenal and recognized by experts in academia. Acclaim also provides English tutoring resources, along with book club sessions, to help with comprehension and analytical skills. Furthermore, these books will also help you write better essays and raise your English grade. Happy reading!


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School

How to Improve Essay Writing

Regardless of grade level, students are always asked to write a few essays during the school year. Though people may say that English and writing are subjective, there is still quite a bit of structure involved in essay writing. Once you master this formulaic structure, you will see that your grades have greatly improved. Embed these tips in your next essay and you’ll see for yourself!

  1. Organize your body paragraphs.

Your teachers will determine your essay grade almost entirely on how you execute your body paragraphs. Write your topic sentence, body sentences, and conclusion sentence in that order. Ensure that your body sentences are relevant to your topic sentence.

Once you have written all of your body paragraphs, structure them by importance rather than chronological order (e.g., having your first paragraph talk about the beginning of the book, etc.). The first body paragraph should be extremely convincing, the second can afford to be of less relevance, and the last body paragraph must be the most engaging of all. Following this stringent structure will benefit you, as this is an efficient way of trimly organizing your essay.

  1. In your analyses, use specific words from your cited quotations to help you prove your thesis.

The key to demonstrating critical thinking in essays is through analyzing the author’s diction through quotations. Read the quotes that you plan to embed in your essay, and pick a few words that you think the author intentionally used to highlight a character or situation. By trying to see the book through the author’s lens, you will grasp a more solid understanding of the author’s point, along with key themes and motifs. Then, reiterate how these specific words pertain to your thesis statement.

  1. Write fluid sentences in your conclusion paragraph.

Many students have issues with writing their conclusion paragraphs. Some err by writing a simple sentence for their paragraph, while others list out their points in a didactic way. The key to a conclusion paragraph is to paraphrase your main points (your topic sentences for each body paragraph) and reiterate your thesis statement. Don’t add any new facts to your conclusion; this paragraph is dedicated to wrapping up the essay. Try to write your summarization in seamless sentences that will give your reader a sense of closure.

  1. Have a succinct, workable thesis.

Your thesis, depending on the paper, can only be about 1-3 sentences long. It is crucial that your thesis is a concise statement of your opinion of a novel. Additionally, it needs to be provable through quotations and concrete evidence. You must be able to expound on your thesis for a large portion of your essay. Try to formulate a specific thesis based on a broad observation.

Essay writing is vital for a student to develop and hone their communication skills. Though it may be complex, our phenomenal English tutors at Acclaim are extremely willing to help. Moreover, see a list of fine literature recommended for students to write their essays on!


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Subjects

Why Liberal Arts are Important for Your Child

With the advent of STEM and developments in technologies, liberal arts have been pushed to the backburner. However, a liberal arts education is just as important as a STEM one. Rather than dismissing one for the other, here are a few reasons why liberal arts are extremely valuable for your child:

  1. As your child immerses themselves more and more into their liberal arts classes, their critical thinking abilities will increase. This is vital for analyzing novels and fine literature, yet this capability can extend to their future work life. Your child will be in tune with their creative side, which will help them easily come up with innovative solutions to solve prevalent issues in their lifetime. 
  2. Your child will become more worldly and develop a panoramic viewpoint of life. The more literature your child reads throughout their life, they will understand not only the historical contexts of a book but also the psyches of great authors like Shakespeare. Also, they will learn to enjoy reading, which is an admirable, productive hobby that will allow them to critically think about world affairs.
  1. Having a good grasp of both liberal arts and STEM, your child will become a well-rounded individual. In countless books, STEM concepts are incorporated in popular genres such as science fiction or dystopian literature. With both fields of studies in mind, your child will be able to discern complex scientific concepts introduced in books, as well as analyze how those very concepts affect the story world. 
  2. Liberal arts caters to one’s emotions; with this, your child’s empathy for others will increase. They will invoke deep emotions for characters they intimately identify with. Your child will gain knowledge and education from books, but more importantly, learn how to be a better person.
  1. When your child has a solid mastery of liberal arts, they will surely become a better writer and communicator. This skill will follow them to high school and beyond, as they will be able to write a unique college admissions essay. This is an extremely useful skill to have, as it can impact their acceptance to prestigious universities. Your child will also be able to clearly communicate verbally and through writing, which is a refreshing quality.

A liberal arts education is just as valuable for your child’s future as a STEM one. Your child will learn to diversify their thinking and verbally elucidate their meaning in an effective manner. They will learn about various cultures and places through reading literature, and they can explore their interests further by learning more languages [link blog here]. Additionally, Acclaim also provides English tutoring for students to better their analytical abilities, so sign up for our tutoring courses to enrich your student’s academic life!

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Subjects

Why You Should Learn More Languages

With the age of globalization and technological developments, it is much easier to communicate with people from different parts of the world. Some languages can be difficult to learn, yet all languages are beautiful and have captivating cultures and backgrounds surrounding them. People can make the world a smaller place by learning different languages.

One reason to learn more languages is so that you can become more culturally aware and knowledgable about the history behind a language and nation. Every culture has a valuable past that involves beauty and tragedy, and it is necessary to respect different traditions and heritages. As you learn more about a country’s language and culture, you will become a more worldly, open person, not limited to ethnocentric beliefs.

Through learning different languages, one can learn words and phrases that are untranslatable to English. Some phrases and idioms may not make much sense in English, yet invoke an abstract emotion that is universally familiar to all humans. By understanding these phrases, you will feel closer to the culture, as you can clearly identify and relate to foreign words. In addition, you will feel more accomplished for understanding these complex phrases, as it indicates your improvement in the language. 

As you learn more about the language and culture of a country, one major perk is that you will appreciate different cuisines. Food is an essential part of a culture, so if you can order food (major points if you order it in that language) and understand the significance of it. you are on your way to being a more well-rounded individual. This conveys you as enthusiastic to try new experiences. Another small benefit is that you would learn various methods of cooking, so you can see how different cultures prepare food and compare the methods. 

Most importantly, you will be able to communicate with other people. Whether this means forming new friendships or obtaining a useful skill for a job, learning a new language can help you create meaning with other people. You will be able to bond with someone you would have at one point never been able to communicate with. Learning languages can allow you to listen to others’ life experiences, which you can use to impact your own life. 

Learning languages is an incredible experience that is not limited to simply learning its linguistics, but rather the entire culture that comes along with it. You will be able to understand different views and perspectives of the world — in turn, this will help you become a more empathetic individual. Acclaim offers a variety of foreign languages for you to learn, so contact us today to let us help you broaden your worldview!

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School

How to Survive AP Classes

If you’re taking any AP courses, you’re on track to be noticed by distinguished universities for your efforts. AP stands for Advanced Placement, and these are college-level classes that students can take in high school. Admission counselors see these classes very favorably, and AP courses can eventually benefit you. For one, you wouldn’t have to take these courses once you’re enrolled in a college, and you can save tuition expenses by graduating early! One caveat is that these classes are designed to be challenging, so here are a few ways to help you succeed in these classes:

  1. Complete all of the homework.

Your teacher assigns homework to help you further understand the lesson for the day. Sometimes, you may feel that the work is unnecessary and doesn’t supplement your understanding. Regardless, your homework is a core factor of your grade, so make sure all of your assignments are finished so that you can receive the points for them.

  1. Buy and use a prep book.

Prep books are useful because they offer specific strategies to help you on the actual AP exam. It will inform you very clearly of the time constraints you will have, and give you tips on how to efficiently eliminate wrong answers. Additionally, these books provide some textbook material for you to review before your tests and AP exam, so it will help you obtain a good grade for this class.

  1. Use different notebooks for each AP class you’re taking.

If you’re taking multiple AP classes, it’ll be easier for you to maintain focus if you devote a single notebook for each AP class you’re taking. If you’re taking just one class, take really detailed notes in a manner that will help you, whether that includes different colored pens, highlighters, or sticky notes. It is crucial that you consolidate one notebook for an individual class so that you can learn the material to your fullest potential.

  1. Have a tutor help you.

AP classes are meant to be difficult, and your teachers will expect much more from you because of the level of this class. With that, they will also grade harder on assignments, essays, and tests. Having a tutor who is an expert on the subject will be beneficial to your performance in the class. Your tutors might have also taken an AP course for this class, so they will know exactly how to help you. At Acclaim, we also provide tutoring services for an array of AP courses, and we can support you in achieving a fantastic grade in the class!

  1. Try past AP exams on the subject.

To help you score well on the actual exam in May, make sure to answer some of the sample questions that CollegeBoard provides. They also release exam questions that were actually asked in previous years, so it will give you a good idea of what kind of questions will be presented on the test. This will also help you master the knowledge you need to pass your class with the grade of your dreams!

AP classes are stimulating and challenging, and it is a large step to put your goal of attending a good college into fruition. Another step would be obtaining a good GPA; if you stay motivated and eager to learn as you are now, you can also achieve a 4.0! Sign up for our AP tutoring sessions at Acclaim to succeed in your AP courses and receive our expertise to get you into your dream school!

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School

How to Prepare Your Child for the SBAC

Towards the end of the school year, elementary school students are expected to take the SBAC, or the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. These exams are designed to comprehensively test your child’s knowledge of the concepts they learned over the past year. To score well, your child needs some preparation so that they can focus for long periods, as the assessment is administered over the course of a few days. Here are a few suggestions so that your child can perform at their potential:

  1. Eat a good breakfast. 

Make sure there is plenty of time for your child to eat from different groups of the food pyramid. When your child eats nutritious carbohydrates and vegetables, in particular, they won’t be hungry during their test. In fact, they will have copious amounts of energy to concentrate during SBAC.

  1. Get some good sleep.

Make sure your children get some quality sleep before their exams. There’s no point in trying to cram for these exams, as these are rather a personal reflection of your child’s learning progress. Along with your child’s nutrition, their sleep will also affect their performance, as they might feel tired and cranky during their test. To combat this, help them get ready for bed particularly early so that they get their rest!

  1. Give them a rundown of their schedule.

Though their teachers may inform them about their test, reiterate to them about their testing schedule. Alleviate them of their nerves, as this is simply an assessment of what they have learned. Since the SBAC will affect their typical class schedule, it’s good to let your child know about these changes. It is also a good opportunity for you to encourage them to try their hardest on the test so that you as a parent can observe what they learned, and what specific concepts they need to improve on.

  1. Let them take it easy that week.

Exams are already stressful, and these tests are held for a few hours at a time. Be a little lax about their studies this week and let them play and blow off some steam. Their classes will probably also have less workload than usual, so this is a good time for them to recharge from the intensities of school. Reading is an example of a pleasurable and stimulating activity they can do! 

  1. Tutoring will help ensure that your child is prepared for the SBAC.

Connect your child with a tutor throughout the school year so that your child can develop mastery in English and math. Acclaim has plenty of qualified tutors to help your child understand complex concepts, which will ultimately allow them to score higher on the SBAC. Scoring well is crucial to your child’s learning, and tutoring will help them get ahead of the curriculum.

Following these tips will help your child perform to their maximum potential during the SBAC. It is imperative that they can focus on these exams because it determines what level they are at with certain subjects. Moreover, it speaks to how effectively they have been learning in class. It’s definitely beneficial if a child attends a tutoring program after classes, as it is a supplement to their education. Our tutors at Acclaim can boost your child’s learning, and see how effective our online tutoring programs are!


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School

How to Improve Your Grades in the Middle of the School Year

Every student understands the desperate and helpless feelings one has when they view their grades as subpar. If you feel that you are in this situation, take comfort in the fact that universities always notice improvements in report cards. Most importantly, as you try to improve your grades, you will find the most effective learning method for you! Simply regain the motivation you once had at the start of the school year, and you can undoubtedly raise your grades — no matter what point in the year you are!

  1. Start using a planner.

Planners are extremely useful not only for students but also for most people in the working world. It is a wonderful way for one to organize their tasks and ensure that nothing will get forgotten! With a planner, notate the homework assignments and projects that must be completed, emphasizing their due dates. Additionally, jot down upcoming quizzes and tests so that you can prepare and study for those.

  1. Get closer to your teachers.

Let your instructors know about the specific concepts you are struggling with, as they are there to help. Having a good relationship with your teachers is important, as they can become compassionate towards you and grade more leniently. Remember that all teachers were students once before, so they understand the difficulty of schoolwork.

  1. Do some additional practice with the problems you struggle with.

The best way to improve your understanding of complex concepts is to practice and continually expose yourself to them. For example, try some math problems that were not assigned for homework so you can practice similar problems and master them by test day. This can be applied throughout all subjects, whether you balance various equations for chemistry, or analyze different passages in a book for English.

  1. Talk with an academic counselor.

Academic counselors are the experts on attaining a successful academic life and helping you get into your dream universities. At Acclaim, our counselors and tutors can provide the expertise and necessary material to help give you the top grades. Furthermore, our experts can also give their insight into college consultations if you want to plan ahead with your academic career. They can organize your academic goals and set a plan for you to achieve them.

Improving your grades is always a viable option, even if you feel that you have been sidetracked from your goals. Despite the doubts you may have about your capabilities, a 4.0 GPA is tangible. As you learn more about your learning style, you will definitely raise your GPA and also feel fulfilled with gaining more knowledge in your studies. 


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School

How to Set Your Child for Success

Parents always want the best for their children. It is natural for parents to be concerned with their child’s studies, as their future can be dependent on their academic success. There are a few loving steps parents can follow to allow their child to reach their potential — to happily absorb knowledge from this massive world!

It is imperative that parents consistently review basic math concepts with their children at least once a week. This way, children can develop a strong foundation with their arithmetic skills and also get ahead of their curriculum. Students will find that completing homework and tests becomes easier thanks to their newly sharpened skills. Moreover, math is a huge component of STEM, and it is vital that a child gets immersed in STEM as early as they can to hone their logical thinking abilities. 

Liberal arts, on the other hand, is the counterpart to STEM — it is just as important for a student to master the arts, as it fosters their analytical capabilities. Encouraging children to read, or even reading with a child can boost their reading level and comprehension of the text. They will learn soft skills that are necessary for their future such as empathy and communication abilities. 

Success is not only limited to the academic field, of course. Children can seek fulfillment through other hobbies and extracurricular activities. Enroll them in different activities that they are interested in, whether that be intramural sports, dancing, or musical instruments. This can lead to future opportunities, such as scholarships or university admittance, as nowadays, colleges are looking for more well-rounded individuals. 

A hugely significant activity that parents should remember to partake in is to play with their children! This will keep them physically active and mentally healthy. Games like puzzles and fun brain teasers are interesting examples of stimulating a child’s intellectual capabilities. Children thrive on happiness, leading them towards academic excellence!

If a student is struggling academically, there are resources available to help. Enrolling a student at a tutoring center will help them flourish and understand concepts that they once had difficulty with before. Acclaim is just one wonderful example of such an agency, as we offer a variety of programs for children to nurture their academic learning. 

There are always ways and methods for parents to uplift their children and push them towards success. Parenting looks different for every family, but we at Acclaim can help you reach you and your children’s goals. Let us reach out and help your children soar to success!


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School

How to Decide on Your Major

No matter what year of high school one may be in, it is natural for all students to feel apprehensive about selecting a major for college. Choosing your major is a key factor that contributes to your college experience and your future in the workforce afterward. Never fret, however, as you can change your major at any point in your college career! Here are a few tips on how to decide your major:

  1. Make a list of hobbies that you enjoy.

Creating a list, chart, graph — whatever visual that suits your needs — will greatly help narrow down your interests to a single major. Find a hobby or interest that you would enjoy doing for the rest of your life. A job does not have to be limited to paperwork and regular office tasks; a job catered to your interests can be fun! You would find college life to be pleasant as well, as you would be studying a major that you sincerely enjoy. 

  1. Think about how you want to impact the world. 

Take a moment to contemplate your life and who you are as a person. Do you want to help people, animals, or the environment? Do you want to use your skills to help increase profits for a company that produces a useful product? Think about your personal method of helping the people in your life, and how to best utilize your soft skills in a workplace setting. 

  1. Narrow down subjects that you do well in

Think about the subjects that you are learning in school, and consider the ones you have a natural aptitude for. If any of those subjects pique your interest, perhaps you will enjoy pursuing higher education for one, where you will learn more deeply about the topic. Within majors, you can choose a concentration, where you will study a particular aspect of the topic that fascinates you. If you perform well in a subject and you like it, it may be a sign for you to pursue it!

  1. Don’t limit yourself

Although you may be learning the same seven subjects in school, universities offer a diverse array of subjects and experiences. Even if you begin your college years as an “undecided” major, you will eventually find a pathway that intrigues you. Do not rush the process, as your life experiences will shape your interests. Take your time in absorbing the various majors offered by colleges and use your time wisely in choosing which one attracts you the most.


Selecting a major is definitely a huge decision that will impact your life. Nonetheless, keep in mind that you have plenty of time to think about it. Changing your major is always an option that countless students take advantage of. Furthermore, you don’t have to go through this challenging process alone. Acclaim provides excellent college consulting services to help you


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School

Simple Ways to Get That 4.0 GPA

It is naturally the dream of many high school students to obtain a 4.0 GPA. Not only would it contribute to admittance to prestigious universities, but it would also give students more financial opportunities like scholarships. Even though it may seem daunting, the process of achieving a 4.0 GPA can be simplified in a few tips:

  1. Use highlighters in moderation to supplement your studies. The key to utilizing highlighters to your advantage is not using them excessively. As you are highlighting, you will realize that you are retaining the material by determining which bits of information are crucial enough to take note of. In the process, you are becoming an active reader, as opposed to passively scanning through the details.
  1. Annotating is critical to the learning process, and it is not limited to your English books. Your English teachers probably emphasize the importance of annotating to understand the text. This advice is viable across all subjects — annotating your textbooks can give you a comprehensive understanding of the topic you are currently learning. You can notate your reactions to the text, draw arrows towards important topics, or highlight (see #1) certain vocabulary words. Learning concepts to your full capacity is paramount to passing tests and quizzes, both of which amount to a large portion of your grade.
  1. Take notes during class, and do so legibly. Many of our suggestions lean towards notetaking because most of your studying process should consist of reading the notes you wrote during class. Rather than trying to squint and decipher your handwriting, you would have a much more productive study session if you take the time beforehand in class to write clearly.
  1. Constantly seek out your teachers whenever you need help. Prior to college, teachers do not really have a time dedicated for “office hours.” Whenever you struggle to understand a concept in math or want your essay to get read over, take about ten minutes of your lunch period or after school to ask your teachers for help. They will appreciate how much effort you are putting into their classes, and in turn, they will be more gracious in grading your work. This is also great practice for attending office hours in college!
  1. Most importantly, allocate your time wisely. This may sound like banal advice, but it’s the only way to get your homework completed on time, which is a key to receiving a good grade. This is a prime time of your life to learn valuable skills such as time management, which will benefit your future when you attend university and enter the workforce. As you become better with your time, you will preclude negative habits such as procrastination; putting homework and projects off and cramming for exams are forms of procrastination that every student regrets in the meanwhile. Time management helps you learn and memorize to the best of your abilities, and ultimately, helps reach your potential!

These are all easy ways that can help you get a perfect GPA. Receiving good grades involves consistency in your studies, along with time management. If you find yourself struggling in your classes and need some extra help in your academics, sign up for classes with Acclaim to help you get back on track to fulfill your goal of a 4.0!